I have long opposed spending hundreds of millions on a new stadium for our beloved Minnesota Vikings, but my eyes have been opened to the plight of Zygi Wilf, our plucky NFL franchise owner who has not let naysayers like me prevent him from bellying up to the public trough and elbowing all those school kids and other scroungers out of the way.

If we don't give Zygi a stadium, we will kill the Golden Goose and force Minnesotans to live without pro football. Make way for Zygi Wilf, kids! Stadium coming through!

Count me in. I have three kids in the public school pipeline, but their pathetic need for books and supplies must not obscure the big picture. Minnesota is in trouble, with a $5 billion deficit staring us in the face and more red ink to follow. We can't cut our way out of budget problems like that. We have to spend our way out. That's where Zygi comes in. Thanks to Zygi, we are almost out of trouble already.

Billion dollar football stadium? What are you talking about? That ain't no stadium. That's a public works project.

Friday's Star Tribune carried the news that despite the distraction of his team making the playoffs for the first time since the Wilf family paid $600 million for the Vikes, Zygi has taken pity on the public, many of whom are suffering in the economic downturn. It takes an extraordinary person to see the purple lining at a time like this. But Zygi is a man of vision; plus, he has public relations people who help keep him focused on the big stuff.

So he is offering Minnesota a unique chance to build a billion dollar football stadium that will help keep us clothed and fed during the bleak days of recession. Charity like this has not been seen around here since the first leaders of the state were telling the Indians that pennies per acre was a fair price for worthless black dirt. It would be smart for us to build this public works palace on the edge of downtown Minneapolis, a place now checkerboarded by half-empty parking lots that could be put to much better use as part of a brave new Wilf World.

A stadium that helps soften the blows of unemployment, hunger and homelessness? If Mother Teresa were alive, I believe she would plant a kiss right on Zygi's little mustache.

I imagine a football stadium with a soup kitchen, a food shelf and a place where the homeless can bed down after the game, perhaps making little beds out of purple pompoms. We are talking "multipurpose" here: Day-care centers, classrooms for retraining the unemployed and turning them into contributing members of society, perhaps as hotdog vendors.

So it is a beautiful vision that Mr. Wilf is offering the community, and we can have it for just $600 or $700 million, which otherwise would be squandered on education or health care or the usual foolishness, none of which would bring NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to grace us with his presence. (A very generous $300 million more, by the way, would be kicked in by Zygi, who is so down at the heels that he is not expected to make the upcoming Forbes list of wealthiest families without the help of, um, his family).

As might be expected, though, the small-minded politicians in St. Paul, from Gov. Pawlenty down to legislative leaders, say 2009 is not a good time to build Wilf World.

Time for naysayers to wake up

Sure, spending on a stadium in a time of deficit seems unwise when you first look at it. But c'mon, folks: Minnesota needs help right now, and Zygi is standing here, with his hand outstretched and his palm open.

What are we waiting for?

It's time for naysayers to get on board. A new season starts today. New thinking should, too. In the past four years, as the Vikings have struggled to get a new stadium, the team has not made the playoffs.

Now, at last, it has.

The Vikings host the Eagles today at the Metrodome, which, it goes without saying, is unsuitable for a gentleman such as Zygmunt Wilf.

We need a public works project! So all on board for Wilf World. Everyone is purple today, people!

Our Vikings are back in the hunt for that elusive Super Bowl championship, and our political leaders better be careful not to kill the Golden Goose.

At the moment, the deal is shaping up beautifully:

Zygi gets the gold, and the taxpayers get the goose.

ncoleman@startribune.com • 612-673-4400